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James Bridle and a New Dark Age at Bluecoat

  • Wed, 27 Jun 2018
  • 6.30 PM - 8.00 PM
  • Tickets: £4/£3

Over the last century, technological acceleration has transformed our planet, our societies, and ourselves, but it has failed to transform our understanding of these things... not least because we ourselves are utterly enmeshed in technological systems, which shape in turn how we act and how we think. We cannot stand outside them; we cannot think without them"

- James Bridle

What is technology trying to tell us in an emergency?

As the world around us increases in technological complexity, our understanding of it diminishes. Underlying this trend is a single idea: the belief that our existence is understandable through computation, and more data is enough to help us build a better world.

In actual fact, we are lost in a sea of information, increasingly divided by fundamentalism, simplistic narratives, conspiracy theories, and post-factual politics. Meanwhile, those in power use our lack of understanding to further their own interests. Despite the accessibility of information, we’re living in a new Dark Age.

Join us at Bluecoat as James Bridle discusses his book, New Dark Age, which explores the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime. What is needed is not new technology, but new metaphors: a metalanguage for describing the world that complex systems have wrought. We don’t and cannot understand everything, but we are capable of thinking it. Technology is and can help us in this thinking: computers are not here to give us answers, but are tools for asking questions. Understanding a technology deeply and systemically allows us to remake metaphors in the service of other ways of thinking – without claiming, or even seeking to fully understand – and to ask the right questions to guide us through this new dark age.


James Bridle is an artist and writer working across technologies and disciplines. His artworks have been commissioned by galleries and institutions and exhibited worldwide and on the internet. His writing on literature, culture and networks has appeared in magazines and newspapers including Wired, Domus, Cabinet, the Atlantic, the New Statesman, the Guardian, the Observer and many others, in print and online. He lectures regularly at conferences, universities, and other events.

Image credit: Photo courtesy of the British Council.

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Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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